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Monday, February 19, 2018

DNRC to conduct new flood study

By Kyle Vuille

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

After years of numerous studies and reports which have resulted in no firm plan to solve the floodplain issue in Glendive, a new study presented by the Montana Department of Natural Resources “Silver Jackets” and a representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in January is hoped to kick start progress on the issue.

DNRC floodplain specialist Worby McNamee and Corps hydraulic engineer Traci Owens presented a proposed study to a group of local officials and interested residents on Tuesday. 

The study the group hopes to take place in the coming year will study the effects of the flood plain on Glendive and West Glendive. Unlike other studies and the Section 205 floodplain mitigation project, the city of Glendive is not required to contribute any money for this project.

The project will cover three different aspects of the floodplain.

The first aspect will be the levee branch analysis for two to three locations in the floodplain. Owens explained she and her team will pinpoint three locations to run tests that will give a time sequence in the event of a flood and show the depths of water during each time sequence. 

The engineer out of Corps’ Omaha District said the Corps will pick the locations for the levee breach analysis based on: the worst case scenario for citizens, the lowest elevation point and a third arbitrary point. The information from the analysis will be used to find ways to alleviate the threat to those points.

The second aspect of the project is a life simulation where homes, roads and evacuation routes in proximity to the flood plain will be studied.

The final part of the project will study non-structural issues like the potential of relocation, buy-out and consequential emergency procedures/ action plans.

McNamee said the Silver Jackets team have a maximum of two years to work on the project, but he expects to have results by the end of the year.

Because of past studies, some audience members were wary what will come of yet another one. Owens assured the crowd certain elements and information coming from this project will prove fruitful in future plans or projects like the life safety issue and the non-structural study.

“We mostly tried gearing this project to give you guys something you can actually use,” Owens said. “We know there have been projects here in the past that haven’t produced the best results.”

Casitas Del Rio owners Dick and Frank Crisafulli asked how the cost of relocating the park would be funded if relocation was found to be a dire need and whether adding more dirt to the levee would be feasible. Owens mentioned in the meeting that the mobile park would be focused on with the non-structural study. 

Owens said during a planning meeting in mid-October Omaha District chief of planning Greg Johnson said adding dirt to the levee would have adverse effects to the east side of the river.

McNamee also said from the Silver Jackets project, a list of funding opportunities, state and federal, will become available if relocation was recommended. 

“The more we know, we’ll get a better idea of who to reach out to to request funding,” McNamee said.

Other concerns about weighing the economic impact of both grocery stores being in the floodplain arose.

McNamee said  the project is going to try to get a good picture of what those two grocery stores mean for Glendive, economically, and for quality of life. 

Owens said the concept of getting information about those impacts is new to her, but the non-structural study would look at those aspects. However, Owens did mention Johnson previously said the impact of the loss of grocery stores would be hard to weigh.

Glendive Public Works Director Jack Rice said though the city and county would like to come to a final solution, this project is a step in the right direction.

“Any information is good information,” Rice said.

Dawson County Commissioner Dennis Zander said the county wants to make sure this study will tie into the bigger picture to find a solution through something like a Section 205 project.

Reach Kyle Vuille at
news@rangerreview.com.

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